Nashville Hot Chicken

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I come from a family of great cooks and many of the recipes that are our family favorites are derived from Southern cooking.  Fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, peas or green beans with bacon and a biscuit would be favorite meal. If however, I was on an island and had to eat the same food every day, it would be a seafood buffet everyday, I digress that is a different game!

The HOT in Nashville Hot Chicken isn’t from being one fine looking piece of chicken, it’s because it has spiciness for days!!

As I mentioned above, some of my favorite family meals originate in the South where much of my family came from. So fried chicken was a serious staple on our dinner menu when I was a kid. When I took a “girls trip” to Nashville with my sister and mom, one of our stops was for their famous hot chicken, proudly called Nashville Hot Chicken.  

I had heard stories about this Nashville Hot Chicken, about the heat and watched videos about it. However, what we tasted there was a level of heat beyond what we could comfortably handle. What I mean to say was, of course we ate it, we’re not quitters for goodness sake, but we were in serious pain with beads of sweat everywhere and tears running down our face and we didn’t even get near the top of the heat Richter scale (I know that’s not what it’s called, but I’m writing this story and I like it).

Big time crunch and serious heat are the requirements for Nashville Hot Chicken!!

Some places call this Red Hot Chicken because the sauce you baste or dip the fried chicken in,  is red in color from the paprika and cayenne. I call it Nashville Hot Chicken, but whatever you call it, just know it is delicious and you will just keep eating and eating and eating. Now, back to the heat, you can alter this to your liking. I bring the heat down for us when I make this at home so that we can eat it comfortably and without tears.

I like to eat this with my hands and tear it apart and be downright beastly with it, but my husband is more refined and likes his served on a nice roll.  If you knew us, you would know how funny that last sentence was. I am not terribly beastly, and my hubs is definitely NOT refined!! He does however, like bread! So a nice soft roll, sturdy enough to stand up to a hot, piece of basted, crunchy, chicken is what I look for.  I know in the South, they often just serve their Nashville Hot Chicken sitting on a slice or two of plain ol’ white bread.

Nashville Hot Chicken

Nashville Hot Chicken has huge crunch and bold spiciness! Delicious in every bite!!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time45 mins
Marinate in buttermilk1 hr
Total Time2 hrs
Course: Main Course, sandwich
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Nashville Hot Chicken
Author: Oma Darling

Ingredients

  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup hot sauce (I used Tabasco)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 6-8 boneless, chicken thighs (or legs, breasts, whatever you prefer)
  • 6 cups flour (for dredging)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • Vegetable oil for frying (enough to cover the chicken about 1/2 way up the chicken)
  • 1/4 cup cayenne (for hot oil sauce)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (chipotle is a good alternative)
  • 1 tsp red, pepper, flakes

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, pour buttermilk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, paprika in a bowl, mix and then add chicken. Cover and set in fridge for an hour or for up to 8 hours.
  • For dredge; combine flour, salt, black pepper, and paprika, mix
  • Pull the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and dredge in flour mixture. Shake off excess and then back into the buttermilk and then back into the flour mixture. Place this on a rack while coating other pieces of chicken.
  • Fill deep skillet with vegetable oil so that is 1/3 of so up the sides of the pan (remember the level will rise when you put chicken in it). Heat to 325 degrees.
  • Place chicken pieces in oil one at a time, don't overcrowd pan, fry only 3 to 4 pieces at a time until chicken reaches 165 degrees. When done, put cooked chicken on a rack covered backing sheet and place in oven to keep warm while you finish frying the rest of the chicken.
  • Place the cayenne brown sugar, garlic powder, chili powder and red pepper flakes in a bowl and add approximately 1-1/2 cups of the hot oil from the skillet. , stir well and combine.
  • Brush the cooked chicken with the hot oil marinade on all sides and then serve.

Notes

I made a gluten free version for my daughter-in-law by substituting the regular flour with Cassava Flour.  It was fantastic!!

Nashville Hot Chicken is actually a simple recipe, it just takes a little organization of your counter space next to the stove top, so you can dredge your chicken prior to frying. You will need a rack to put your chicken on and keep warm in the oven while you are frying the other pieces, and a bowl to make your hot oil for basting. The rest is just getting around the table and eating this yumminess. The leftovers are delicious too! Enjoy friends!

Nashville Hot Chicken is a regional favorite. Do you have something you make that is a specialty in another region?

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